'Encounter Specialist' Pradeep Sharma May Contest From Nalasopara On Shiv Sena Ticket
'Encounter Specialist' Pradeep Sharma was the inspiration for blockbuster films like ‘Ab Tak Chappan’ and ‘Maximum’.
MUMBAI: The resignation of "encounter specialist" Pradeep Sharma, a Maharashtra Police Senior Police Inspector who was once featured on the cover of Time magazine, was accepted by Maharashtra government on Monday. Sharma is reputed to have gunned down over 150 criminals and terrorists. The Senior Police Inspector, who was heading the Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) of the Thane police when he applied for voluntary retirement in July this year after 35 years of service, is likely to contest the upcoming state Assembly polls from Nalasopara town on Shiv Sena ticket.
Though Pradeep Sharma has confirmed about his voluntary retirement approved by the state Home Department, he is yet to comment on the possibility of contesting assembly polls on a Shiv Sena ticket. On Tuesday afternoon, when Sharma arrived with his family at the famous Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai, it was believed that he had come to seek the blessings of God before starting his new innings.
Once dreaded by the underworld and idolised by the masses as an "Encounter Specialist", Sharma along with other prominent "encounter specialists" of the 1990s like Vijay Salaskar, Praful Bhosale, Arun Borude, Aslam Momin, Raju Pillai, Ravindra Angre and Daya Nayak helped "clear up the city of organized crime activities". For Bollywood, Sharma was the inspiration for blockbuster films like ‘Ab Tak Chappan’ and ‘Maximum’.
Many of these "gun-masters" were trained by retired DGP Arvind Inamdar, sported sophisticated weapons, and they frequently grabbed headlines for "encounter killings" of one or the other criminals from various gangs which used to operate in Mumbai, and occasionally even terrorists. Many movies were inspired by their gangland exploits.
At one point, as with many of his other "encounter specialist" colleagues, he got embroiled in the custodial death of a terror suspect Khwaja Yunus in 2003, and was transferred to Amravati. In 2008, he was dismissed for allegedly harbouring links with the very same mafia he was battling, and arrested two years later for an alleged fake encounter.
Undeterred, Sharma fought his dismissal before the Bombay High Court and Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal, and was acquitted to be reinstated in the police force in 2016.
At his new posting as Thane AEC chief, two years ago, he shot to national prominence in September 2017 by arresting absconder mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar's younger brother, Iqbal and blew the lid off a major extortion racket in Mumbai and Thane.
Born in Uttar Pradesh and raised in Dhule (Maharashtra), the 59-year-old AEC chief was due to retire from Maharashtra Police in May 2020.
For the assembly elections in the state, seats are yet to be divided between BJP and Shiv Sena. In the next 10 days it will be decided who will contest on how many seats. Shiv Sena, however, so far has not announced a candidacy formally Pradeep Sharma, but is being considered Sharma will be nominated from Nalasopara seat.
Nalasopara seat is dominated by Bahubali leader Hitendra Thakur of Bahujan Vikas Aghadi. Apart from this, there are a large number of Hindi-speaking voters in this area. In such a situation, the Shiv Sena seems certain of its victory due to the candidature of Pradeep Sharma, who also belongs to Hindi-speaking belt and has the image of an officer fighting against the offenses.
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